What's Going On

A WLT Collaboration

Restoration of Bird Populations: Woodcock a Case Study

Saturday, February 18, 2-3:30, at the CT Audubon Center, Pomfret, CT

Since 1970 over 3 billion birds have disappeared from the North American landscape. The causes for these drastic declines are numerous, but at the heart of the matter is the loss of suitable habitat on both the breeding and the wintering grounds. Recovery of populations of birds will require large scale habitat protection and, in many cases, restoration, throughout the life cycle needs of the species in question. Using the American woodcock as an example, we present a case study of how partners are working to reverse population declines.

Dr. Min Huang

Min Huang is a wildlife biologist for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and heads the Migratory Bird Program. He is also an adjunct research scientist with the University of Connecticut. He has worked as a wildlife biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission where he managed the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, working primarily with deer and various endangered species such as the Florida grasshopper sparrow, red-cockaded woodpecker, Florida scrub jay, and whooping crane. He also spent 5 years working for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as a District Biologist, where he primarily worked with deer, elk, mountain goats and endangered species such as the spotted owl and marbled murrelet. Currently, he is involved with studies assessing American kestrel survival, American woodcock habitat use and survival in response to management, clapper rail survival and nesting success, and the development of a multi-stock decision framework for the harvest management of waterfowl in the Atlantic Flyway.

(from Connecticut Bird Atlas website)

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A WLT Collaboration

The Townshend parcel of WLT’s Nightingale Woods Preserve was backdrop this fall to area resident Donna Dufresne's ongoing research of the Randall family, some of its early inhabitants. Partnering with the Pomfret Historical Society, a series of four workshops, Waking the Dead: Archaeology, Genealogy and Archival Research of Enslaved Africans and Native Americans, covered the local history, techniques of working with primary, original documents, African American genealogy, grave stone restoration, and more.

It is believed that enslaved African Americans are buried at the family cemetery, but in unmarked graves.

The WLT is pleased to partner in the effort to help shed light on the past habitation of this land and to commemorate the individuals whose graves were not marked when they died.

Our fundraising effort was a success!

Thank you to all our generous donors who made the memorial stone possible. We are so grateful to those supporters who make conservation possible and whose curiosity helps us to go even deeper to discover the history hidden in our forests. Thank you!

Out of the Shadows: Commemorating the Enslaved African Americans of the Higginbotham Cemetery.https://cdn.wyndhamlandtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/concept-stylized.jpg?strip=all&lossy=1&w=300&ssl=1

A big THANK YOU to all our generous donors!

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Remarks from Lois Bruinooge, Executive Director, The Last Green Valley

You’re standing in the middle of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor, a region framed by the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers that encompasses 26 towns in eastern CT and 9 towns just over the border in Massachusetts.

There are 55 National Heritage Areas around the country and they all have unique landscapes and stories to tell. Our region was designated a National Heritage Corridor by Congress back in 1994 because of our rich history and our important natural resources.

Since then, for more than 25 years, our organization has been working hard to protect our natural resources and to share and celebrate our region’s history.

But as so often happens, over time, we to tend to repeat the history and the stories we grew up with, the narratives that are most familiar and comfortable. We ignore uncomfortable truths that don’t fit the narrative we know – slavery? Not here. That was a southern problem, not a northern one.

Yet here we are, honoring enslaved people who lived, prayed, worked and died on this land. People whose story has been hidden in the shadows and the darkness, and whose stories were not included in the history books I grew up with.

Certainly, the last 2-3 years of the pandemic have reinforced what many of us already knew, that The Last Green Valley’s wide-open spaces – abundant forests, fresh air, miles of trails – are critical to our physical, mental and spiritual health. Wyndham Land Trust has been leader in protecting open space for wildlife and people to enjoy.

Yet it is also abundantly clear that the residents of this corner of northeast CT are strikingly homogenous in skin tone. And sadly, it is also clear that many people of color, even those who live nearby, don’t feel comfortable visiting our open spaces.

I’m sure none of us mean to be exclusionary, we try to be open and inviting. Yet the narratives we have been telling ourselves for generations are so deeply ingrained that’s its hard to be open to a different truth. But step by step, we can change.

So to everyone here who has supported this project, to Donna Dufresne, to Janet Booth, and to the rest of the members of the Wyndham Land Trust, thank you. You are shining a light on a hidden past, giving voice those who were silenced, and you’ve added new perspectives to the stories we tell about ourselves. We are richer for it.

And by sharing a more complete and complex history, you have also shined a light on the path to the future, a future that is more diverse and inclusive, with equity and justice for all.

You are trailblazers in The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor, and an example for other land trusts to follow. We are grateful and we thank you for this important work. I am honored to be with you here today.